rn: Peace Breaking Out! Israel, Sri Lanka


Jan Slakov

Dear friends,

Here is great news. When you put these stories together with the "Beautiful
Resistance" story (which I sent out to many people on Dec. 30, the story of
how a peace vigil in Leipzig succeeded), you see there is hope for the
"forces" of nonviolence (also known as love in some circles:). ... Maybe WW
III will be won by persuasion and caring, rather than with bullets and tanks!

all the best, Jan
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 10:00:14 -0800
From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••>
Subject: When peace emerges from shared pain

Dear friends,

Some say it is the meditation being done for peace.  Some say it is the
work being done for peace.  Some say it is the demonstrations.  Some say it
is the rise of violence to a fever pitch that invites its own backlash.

But in some places, peace seems to be breaking out rather remarkably.  Read
the following inspiring stories from Israel and Sri Lanka, two of the most
war-torn regions in the world.  Then, if you wish, read my thoughts which

_ _ _ _ _ _


From Eryn Kalish, Rosa Zubizarreta and Michael Bridge

From: "Jewish Peace News" <•••@••.•••
Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 14:59:15 -0800
Subject: [JPN] Svirsky: Imagine All the People Reply-

[Gila Svirsky, of the Coalition of Women for a Just Peace in Israel,
sends us this report of the mass rally in Tel Aviv yesterday,
sponsored by almost every peace group in Israel (with the notable,
unfortunate, yet not surprising exception of Peace Now). A list of
the sponsors is at the end of the article.

Svirsky lists some of the signs held aloft in the demonstration, and
reports on some of the things said in speeches at this rally. Uri
Avnery, veteran peace activist, former member of the Irgun Zvai
Leumi during the days of Israel's war of independence, and prolific
author and writer spoke of his change of heart regarding the refusal
to serve in the Israeli armed forces. "I once disagreed with refusal
to serve in the army, but today I salute those who will not serve.

Refusal is the beginning of the end of the occupation." Some other
wonderful and inspiring comments are noted. Of particular interest
is the recasting of the traditional Zionist song, "Ein li eretz
aheret" ("I have no other [home]land"). She notes that singing the
song, as they did, in both Hebrew and Arabic casts it in a new light
of unification and shared experience. Svirsky says, "For the Arabs
in the crowd, the song suddenly became theirs, too, and for the
Jews, it meant a land we both love deeply." The Israeli peace
movement has reawakened, and in a more decisive and strong form than
ever. - MP]

10 February 2002


We knew there would be a big turnout for the peace demonstration
last night just from the deluge of pro-peace ads in Ha'aretz the day
before - page after page of statements and petitions, all critical
of the occupation. Some excerpts:

***"There is a choice!" An expanded new list of 200 combat officers
and soldiers who refuse to serve in the army of occupation.

***"There's a limit!" Support for the new soldiers, and the names of
others who have consistently refused to serve, placed by Yesh Gvul.

***"We support the soldiers who refuse to serve the occupation" - a
petition placed by civilian supporters.

***"Peres, you are a collaborator in war-crimes!" placed by Gush Shalom.

***"Do not say 'we did not see, we did not know' - the price of
keeping the territories" - placed by the Israel Committee Against
House Demolitions.

***"A Recipe for National Suicide" - placed by a private citizen.

And a huge, blood-red ad, "The Occupation is Killing Us All", signed
by the 28 organizations that came together to hold last night's
impressive rally in Tel-Aviv (full list below).

This was the largest pro-peace rally since this Intifada began in
September 2000, with an estimated 10,000 participants - Jews and
Arabs from all over Israel filling the large Tel-Aviv Museum plaza.
The mood is clearly swinging in Israel, and the homemade signs of
people who had not attended a demonstration for years reflected the
new thinking - "Stop Sharon before he kills us all", "More
conscientious objectors!", "Occupation itself is a war crime", and
all permutations of "Share Jerusalem", "Dismantle Settlements", and
"Bring our soldiers home".

By the time veteran peace activist Yehudit Harel opened the
ceremony, the crowd was a mass of people amazed and buoyed by each
other's presence, with a great deal of hugging by people glad to be
sharing the moment. And then Yehudit's opening words in fluent
Hebrew and Arabic set the tone for the entire evening - we Israeli
Jews and Arabs together will no longer abide the crimes that the
Israeli government is carrying out.

"There is only one flag held aloft here today," said Yehudit, "and it is
the black flag of pain, mourning, death, bereavement, and the immorality
of war crimes that are being committed in our name."  At her words,
hundreds of black flags were raised high by the crowd, symbolizing the
statement made years ago by an Israeli court that if a military order
has "a black flag of immorality" hanging over it, the order must be

This was a rally in which the young men who refused to serve in the army
of occupation were the heroes of the evening, receiving ovation after
ovation at every mention.

"I once disagreed with refusal to serve in the army," said Uri Avnery to
the crowd, "but today I salute those who will not serve.  Refusal is the
beginning of the end of the occupation."

Some of these brave young men have been stripped of their command,
demoted, and face court martial, but continue to answer to their

"How can we serve in an army that kills children?" asked Yishai
Rosen-Zvi, an Orthodox tank corps sergeant in the reserves, "How can we
serve an army that demolishes homes, does not allow the sick to get
medical attention, seeks to humiliate an entire population, and reduces
them to hunger and poverty?"

Between speakers and sometimes during them, the crowd broke into
chanting of familiar slogans: "Fuad, Fuad, Minister of Defense, How many
kids did you kill today?"  "Occupation, No!  Peace, Yes!", "Money for
the poor, not for settlers!"

It was a rally in which the stage was shared by Arabs and Jews, women
and men, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, young and old, religious and secular.
Distinguished elderly author Sammy Michael pointed out the futility of
the ongoing occupation: "Death is not a threat to people who willingly
give their lives for a cause."  And Shulamit Aloni, former government
minister and perennial conscience of Israel, called out her message of
hope, "All of you here today are the harbingers of a mass movement that
already has begun.  You will be the teachers of democracy to this
government.  You will set an example of morality.  We shall clean out
the crimes of this country and fill it with peace!"

There were many moments that brought tears to my eyes last night.  I
will tell you of two:  Famed singer Ahinoam Nini (known as "Noa", I
believe, to her American fans) took the risk of alienating her Israeli
right-wing fans, and sang to the crowd a Hebrew, Arabic, and English
version of "Imagine" by the Beatles:  "You may say I'm a dreamer, but
I'm not the only one; I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will
be as one."

And the other was the transformation of a beloved Zionist song "Ein li
eretz aheret".  Reciting this song in two languages, Hebrew and Arabic,
suddenly infused it with new meaning:  "I have no other country to go
to. And even if the land is burning under my feet, this is my home." For
the Arabs in the crowd, the song suddenly became theirs, too, and for
the Jews, it meant a land we both love deeply.

I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.

Gila Svirsky  Jerusalem

Sponsoring organizations:
Association of Arab University Students / Baladna / BANKI / Bat Shalom /
Coalition of Women for a Just Peace / Druse Initiative Committee / Du
Siach / Gush Shalom / HaCampus Lo Shotek, Tel-Aviv University / Hadash
Youth / Israeli Committtee Against House Demolitions / Kol Aher BaGalil
/Kvisa Sh'hora: Lesbians and Gay Men Against the Occupation / Left
Forum, Haifa University / MachsomWatch / Meretz Youth / Monitoring Committee of
the Arab Population in Israel / NELED / Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salaam /
New Profile / Noga / TANDI / Ta'ayush: Arab-Jewish Partnership / Tajamu
Youth / WILPF / Women and Mothers for Peace (formerly Four Mothers) /
Women in Black / Yesh Gvul

Coalition of Women for a Just Peace:

Jewish Peace News (JPN)
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I've just arrived for what may be a pivotal trip to Sri Lanka.

From all accounts, it seems like peace is breaking out all over!  This
is a very delicate time, but (I think) time for some delicate optimism.

Changing Consciousness:
From the outset of our current "peace offensive", Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne
stated that the purpose of the Sarvodaya Peace Initiative was to change
the "psychosphere", the field of consciousness that surrounds all
people, all beings on the island.  The idea was to change the
consciousness of war, to change people's THINKING so that war would be
unthinkable and peace inevitable.  The way we would accomplish this is
by getting hundreds of thousands of people meditating for peace.

Many people, including many veterans of the peace and conflict
resolution movements, scoffed at this idea.  The notion of "doing
nothing" (how they see meditating) to stop war and violence was viewed
with skepticism.  The idea of not supporting one side or another as the
"victim" seemed wrongheaded.  What good would just sitting around
meditating do?

Another scoffing point:  in our strategy, we spent less time talking to
"leaders" and much more time talking to common people.  "What good will
that do?  It's the leaders who have the power to stop or continue the
war.   Talking to people who don't have power is a waste of time."  One
well-known peace activist dismissed our approach as "minor league".

Over the course of the past two years of my involvement, things have
seemed pretty grim.  As we instituted the peace meditations and the
other elements of the Sarvodaya Peace Action Plan, it seemed as though
Ari's strategy was going nowhere.  Military attacks escalated, including
aerial bombing of the Tiger-held villages of the North.  Increased
suicide bombings, including one attack that barely missed killing the
President.  Increased communal violence.  This past July, the stunning
attack on the international airport, destroying an already weak tourist
industry.  Ominous reports that the government was importing chemical
warfare agents.

Then, as if by magic....

In the stretch of only two months, there are so many hopeful signs of
peace, it is difficult to count them all.  The government and the Tamil
Tigers seem to be trying to outdo each other in peace gestures!!!

--Both sides have declared mutual and unilateral ceasefires.  And,
miraculously, the ceasefires are holding, with no reported violent
incidents on either side.
--The government has removed many of the roadblocks and military
checkpoints, both in the capital city and throughout the country.
--The Tamil Tigers have removed barricades and de-mined many of the
roads through territory it holds.  And, in a surprising development, the
Tigers have agreed to open the "A-9" roadway through the northern third
of the island, right through the center of the Tigers' stronghold.  This
road has been closed for two decades, and has been the scene of many
bloody battles, as the government troops attempted (and failed) on
several occasions to blast a route to the north.  By the end of this
month (February), it will be possible to drive from one end of the
island to the other.  For the first time in 19 years.
--Not to be outdone, the government has significantly eased the economic
embargo of the Tiger-held areas, allowing vital foods and supplies to be
delivered in realistic quantities.
--The government has also eased movement restrictions to and from the
Tiger-held areas, increasing the flow of people traveling from 1,200 per
week to over 3,500 per week.  They also eased the nonsensical
bureaucratic paperwork requirements for travel.
-- The Tigers have started returning captured government troops to their

These peace gestures have led to some rather interesting developments:

--Uniformed Tigers have shown up at government checkpoints, where they
have been given escorted tours of government-held villages, and allowed
to return to the Tiger-held areas.  (In other times, they would be
arrested or shot on sight.)
--A busload of government police officers took a wrong turn and wound up
on a road controlled by the Tamil Tigers.  In other days, they would
have been killed, and their weapons and vehicles confiscated.  Now, in
these new times, the Tigers stopped them, treated them to soft drinks,
and then gave them an escort back out to the main road.

So, has the island turned into paradise on Earth?  Not quite, and not
yet.  The parties have taken each of these moves unilaterally.  They
have yet to negotiate and sign a peace agreement.  And, there is a small
number of vociferous "hard-liners" who are dead set against any peace
agreement between the parties.

We all know the situation in the Middle East, where hard-line elements
were able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by a series of
provocative moves designed to inflame negative passions on all sides.
The same can happen here.

The Sarvodaya People's Peace Operation for 2002
To insure that peace stays on the right track, Ari has called for a
massive peace demonstration in mid-March.  He is calling for 500,000
people to gather in the ancient northern city of Anuradapura.  That's
right – HALF A MILLION PEOPLE!!  Who says the little guy doesn't think
big?  And, given Sarvodaya's track record of bringing people together in
mass meditations, it's possible for Sarvodaya to double that figure.

Needless to say, this is taking some unbelievable logistical
arrangements.  Just think: where do you park the buses that have
transported 500,000 people?  What kind of sound system is needed?  How
do you translate all of this into the three dominant languages on the
island?  Where do 500,000 people go to the toilet – in a country devoid
of porta-jons?  Stay tuned…

It's Not Magic....
All of these changes (and more to come) are not the result of some
"magical" force or power.  It is the result of the application of PROVEN
METHODOLOGIES in changing consciousness and changing behavior.  The
Sarvodaya approach to development, peace and spiritual awakening.
Commonway's parallel and complimentary approach to the Philosophy of

We know what to do.  In Sri Lanka, with Dr. Ariyaratne's patient
leadership, we have shown that we can shift the field of consciousness.
Our task now is to continue the shift.

There will be others who may claim "credit" for the recent outbreaks of
peace.  There will be those who may believe that their violence was the
cause of peace, that pouring gasoline on a fire will extinguish it.

--The Tigers may claim that their attack on the airport forced a change
of government.
--The hardliners may claim that the continued military attacks forced
the Tigers to peace.
-- George Bush may claim that his "war on terrorism" scared both parties
to the negotiating table.

Let them make their claims.  We know better.

Sharif M. Abdullah
P.O. BOX 12541
Portland, OR  97212

_ _ _ _ _ _ ___ _ _ _ _


What DOES cause such gigantic, sudden changes?

I have a feeling that no single cause that people cite uniquely creates
phenomena like this.  On the other hand, neither is any of the many factors
without its unique contribution to the whole, which is greater than the sum
of its parts.  I suspect that what leads to sudden, gigantic remarkable
events -- both "good" and "bad" -- is a nonlinear but compelling
accumulation or synergistic dance of factors, such that we cannot predict
the next step, but somewhere one more snowflake falls and a rock heats up
just a little bit more and twenty thousand tons of snow avalanche down a
surprised and suddenly deluged mountainside.

Everything we do, or don't do, plays a role in the mounting tension, often
in ways we will never know.  Our intentions, purposes, assumptions, values,
and visions play a major role in aligning these activities with an
invisible hand into a shared course (like the grain in wood or the flow of
a stream) and, after a time of invisible build-up and tense quivering
complementarities that some people can feel but no one can identify for
sure, something suddenly shifts, and a new reality emerges that wasn't
there before.  We see this sort of thing happen over and over again -- from
riots to the Berlin Wall coming down.  Then the debates start about "what
caused" it.  Such debates are valuable -- especially to us who witness them
without taking sides -- because they provide information about the full
fabric of change, the many strands of varied texture and color which weave
what happens next.

In one sense, the arguing partisans miss out, mistaking their strand for
the whole. Our belief in causality -- which plays out so nicely in
laboratories and mechanical systems -- provides precious little insight
into complex living systems, with their chaos, nuance and infinite detail.
And yet this is all not so simple.  We cannot say the partisan is "wrong"
for being so attached to their "cause".  In fact, their belief in their
favorite causal factor -- and in the efforts it implies and the goal
towards which it strives -- all the things that make a Cause -- generates
the energy with which they weave their particular strand in the fabric of
change.  Their belief is part of the life of the complex living system as
it unfolds towards the avalanche in its future.  It could be said that the
destination and the route call forth the journey -- or at least our belief
in a particular destination and route.  Our belief in meditation or in
peace work or in force as a way to peace, draws us into the great drama of
change, so that we can play our role with a degree of passion and

And then our actual full role ends up being much more and different than we
ever dreamed.  The conflict between dove and hawk, for instance, may need
to rise to a fever pitch -- to levels of atrocity, horror and shared pain
-- before it has enough energy to crack open the fixed patterns of thought,
behavior and institution that block the outpouring of heart needed to heal
a fragmented society.  The dove never wanted that much pain to happen, and
feared that too much pain would block the peace from ever coming.  And the
hawk thought that increasing the other side's pain and not their own side's
would be what brought the peace.  But neither foresaw that it was only an
extremity of pain on both sides which would have the power to trigger the
healing.  And yet, even if we understand this, it is hard to promote the
extremity of pain, and it is risky, for extremities of pain can trigger
disaster, too.  Which is what makes a complex living system unpredictable,
alive and morally challenging to be part of.

And so I can wonder whether it is the esoteric force of many prayers in the
psychosphere (or the political force of many bodies in the city square)
that shifts things towards peace, or whether it is God (or the Government)
responding to the intensity of those voices, or whether it is the
preconditions necessary for mass prayer (or mass demonstration) that
"causes" the shift.  I can wonder about all this.  But I don't have to
"know" an answer -- unless an answer would help me play my role well and

In a funny way, there is no way to play our roles wrong.  And no way to
know if we are playing our roles correctly.  There is only the effort to
play our roles with authenticity, passion and caring, and with as much
awareness as we can muster, knowing that our whole lives are part of larger
and often mysterious forces at work in the world, and that they are part of
us.  Some people trust those forces to be Benign.  I just try to sense what
they are and find ways to work with them on behalf of Life.  All of us are
telling stories to ourselves, to make meaning.

May our many stories about what is happening and why, find a harmony that
brings us the greatest healing and learning for the least amount of
necessary pain.  My story is that co-intelligence is our capacity to find
that optimal, harmonious path together.  I am only beginning to learn that
our conscious ways of being co-intelligent are only part of that picture.
More than anything, it is all still exploration....


PS:  Feel free to support this ongoing exploration with a donation.  It is
one way to play a role in the fabric of change.  On behalf of Life's
efforts create a world that makes sense for all, I thank those who've made
this exploration possible up to this point.


Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * PO Box 493 * Eugene, OR 97440
http://www.co-intelligence.org *  http://www.democracyinnovations.org
Please support our work.  *  Your donations are fully tax-deductible.